Sylva bypass loses steam as priorityWritten by Quintin Ellison
Sylva leaders, asked to list their top road-building priorities, did not include a controversial bypass proposed by the state Department of Transportation.
Instead, town commissioners opted for less drastic measures to improve N.C. 107, a congested traffic corridor for Sylva. They want the state to make smaller fixes before building five-to-six miles of virgin pavement.
“I see it as a city street,” Mayor Maurice Moody said of N.C. 107, “not as a thoroughfare.”
On this issue, at least, the mayor wasn’t singing solo — Sylva town leaders, in a rare moment of harmony, agreed a bypass or major widening of N.C. 107 isn’t a priority.
This marks the second time in just weeks that a board in Jackson County has shied from the state’s proposed bypass, which is currently in the early planning phases.
The county planning board, in a recent list of its own, simply called for a redesign of N.C. 107, and — if a connector/bypass is actually built — for it to follow the existing Cane Creek and Blanton Branch corridor. Not, in other words, a new road cut as envisioned by transportation officials.
Sylva’s list still needs adoption — the discussions took place during a transportation workshop setup by the Southwestern Development Commission, and no voting took place.
All this listing of lists has purpose.
The rankings ultimately will figure into a very big, important master list for this 10-county region of the state transportation department. The Top 25 of exactly where and when roads here get funded, then built or fixed, is what’s at stake.
Equally important, and ultimately maybe more so, town commissioners also opted to form a committee to try to develop a “local solution” to N.C. 107. Ryan Sherby, who oversees transportation issues for the regional Southwestern Development Commission, asked who will participate, said all stakeholders haven’t been identified. At the table for sure, though, will be representation from the town and the transportation department, he said.
Sylva transportation priorities
• U.S. 23 Business/West Main Street: Widen and improve from Mill and Main split to the intersection of N.C. 107/Business 23 at Rite Aid.
• N.C. 107 from Business 23 to N.C. 116: Upgrades and improvements. The board wants to create a N.C. 107 corridor plan.
• U.S. 74 and Business 23: Construction of a westward-bound ramp onto U.S. 74.
• Cope Creek Road from N.C. 107 to U.S. 74: Upgrade to 10-foot lanes consistent with improvements already made.
• N.C. 116/U.S. 441 intersection and Ashe Settlement, from N.C. 107 to N.C. 116: Widen Ashe Settlement and replace intersection of N.C. 116/U.S. 441 with an interchange.
• Business 23/Asheville Highway: Road improvements from N.C. 107 to Hospital Road.
• Skyland Drive from Business 23 to Steeple Road: Upgrades, widening and sidewalks.